Pokemon Go – The Accountant’s Way

I’m going to be up front and honest. I play Pokemon Go.

I have my reasons, of which I will discuss, but I do enjoy the game.

But as the game is deceptively complex, and if a “Trainer” wants to catch them all, they need to play smart. And because . . . 4a3e4f9e2c8194f18e6a0ed55ba9b0ccee9469efdb0a6fa08e51a282c0e0e200

The analysis I performed, is similar to what we at Wilson Lake would perform for a business who wanted to determine the the ROI for various service lines. The goal being that in a moment where a business owner needs to make a decision, they can fall back on the results of their ROI analysis to make a snap decision. That is our goal for this. We want to facilitate Trainers making intelligent decisions when they are presented with multiple options and scarce resources. Of course, if you have a lot of Pokeballs, and unlimited time . . .


I play for 3 reasons:

  • As a Dad I play Pokemon Go with my son, it gives us something to engage with together, on even terms. He is much more knowledgeable than me though.
  • Allows an opportunity to teach: patience, savings, and problem solving. It is my chance to sneak in some Dad lessons without him knowing. IMG_6649
  • Because I played Pokemon Blue when it first came out and it is a lot of fun.

**To the left, is our character (named by my son) and our buddy Larvitar.**

When playing it is important to establish goals.

  1. Catch them all
  2. Battling
    1. Access to Rare Candy, to level up rare Pokemon
  3. Increase level
    1. Improves available resources to support catching them all
  4. Gain badges
    1. Brag worthy, but also facilitates catching of Pokemon

We want to be able to identify very clearly, when we have scarce resources, either Pokeballs or time, which Pokemon to catch.

First, as the first two goals are a given, catch new Pokemon, and catch powerful Pokemon. We need to move on to the more complex part, which is what Pokemon will give us the greatest ROI.

We broke them down into classes:

  • Pidgey Class – 12 Candy to evolve
    • Caterpie
  • Rattata Class – 25 Candy to evolve
    • Geodude
    • Sentret
  • Ekans Class – 50 Candy to evolve
    • Growlithe
    • Snubbull
    • Paras

We utilized the following Key Assumptions

  • Only considered the Pokemon with the highest pop up rate.
  • Pokemon are disposed of immediately after evolution
  • Which type of Pokeball used is irrelevant
  • Use of Berry’s and special event bonuses are also irrelevant

At first glance we did a quick analysis of how much experience could be gained by evolving an equal number of Pokemon from each class. For a total of 15, which is the required amount needed to evolve 5 Pidgey, 2 Rattata, or 1 Ekans. If we do this, for each Pokemon, how much experience do we gain?

  • Pidgey – 4000 XP
  • Rattata – 2500 XP
  • Ekans – 1900 XP

Further analysis in the below chart shows how, throwing accuracy, and throw bonuses can affect the ROI.

2nd throw no bonus
2nd Throw w/curve
1st Throw w/curve
1st Throw w/curve & Excellent
1st Throw w/curve & Great
1st Throw w/curve & Nice
XP per evol cycle
% Difference Rattata
% Difference Ekans
XP per evol cycle
% Difference
XP per evol cycle

Accuracy, and first catch bonus count for a lot, and no surprise to anyone, Pidgey is the leader for exp ROI.

Keep in mind that not all Pokemon within these classes are created equal.

Pop up rate is a huge factor, if you are after experience points, a common Rattata class is more valuable than an uncommon one. Because you are more likely to gather the other necessary candy needed to evolve it. An example would be a Rattata vs a Machop. We don’t see many Machop, so a Pokeball spent on the Machop will take longer to materialize as an evolution compared with Rattata.

Game Goals, no matter what, a new Pokemon, or a Pokemon needed to evolve to a new one is top priority. Because of the rare candy that can be gained from raids, Battle capable Pokemon are valuable. The easy one for us is Rhyhorn. We have a few Rhydon, but for Raids, they are great and a better one is always welcome because it can help us to earn Rare Candy.

Experience points. When you aren’t finding a new Pokemon, or one to Raid with, go for experience points, using the Pidgey, Rattata, and Ekans class structure.

Catch the fun ones. My daughter loves ponies. Do we ever battle with, or do anything with Rapidash? No, but my daughter loves to see Ponyta evolve into Rapidash. Same with Pikachu, my son loves that little mouse. So, we catch all of them, and he gets to evolve it as often as possible.

Badges matter, not a lot, but they do. They increase a Trainer’s ability to catch other ones. Before we had a Charizard, we caught a lot of Growlith, because it helped us with the Fire Badge, which facilitated an increased chance of catching every Charmander we found.

In Order of precedence:

  1. New Pokemon or required candy to evolve.
  2. Pokemon for battle.
  3. Pokemon for experience points.
  4. Pokemon for fun.
  5. Pokemon for badges.

Remember to have fun, and be safe.

Click here to see my calculations.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this document is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or tax advice. It is not intended to be a substitute for obtaining legal, accounting, or other financial advice from an appropriate legal professional, financial adviser or for the purpose of avoiding U.S. Federal, state or local tax payments and penalties.

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